Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 13:01:37 GMT
Subject: Physics World Electronic News

Forwarded message:
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 1995 17:38:22 +0100
From: (Michael Uwe Moebius)
Subject: Physics World Electronic News

In the following I would like to inform you about an electronic
newsletter distributed by the Institute of Physics Publishing (IOP
Publishing). It is called _Physics World Electronic News_ or short:

I asked the publisher if it would be possible to forward a sample issue
to the newjour list and they kindly agreed. I am sending you the latest

Michael Moebius


Published by Physics World magazine, Institute of Physics
Publishing, Copyright IOP Publishing 1995

Editors: Philip Campbell, Judy Redfearn
(See end of newsletter for contact details)

Edition: No 17 -- Friday 17 February 1995


17.1 World Wide Web leaves CERN

17.2 UK council imposes major cut in particle physics

17.3 New priority programme for Swedish research council

17.4 UK research council approves physics programme

17.5 Moves to interconnect Europe at 34 Mbps

17.6 Physics disappears from most cited papers list

17.7 First international conference on R&D evaluation

17.8 Neutrino mass stirs controversy

17.9 Neural net learns from astronomers


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SKr 9.26; SwFr 1.59; 0.80 pounds sterling; C$ 1.77; $1.26;


17.1 World Wide Web leaves CERN

from Richard Sietmann, Berlin

The World-Wide Web (WWW) is moving from CERN, its birthplace. CERN has
decided to cut back on fringe developments, such as the WWW, so that it
can concentrate resources on building the Large Hadron Collider, which
was approved last December (see PWEN9 item 1).

The Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique
(INRIA), the French national institute in computer science and control,
will take over WWW development. The host "", which served
as the starting point for many internet users in Europe, will now be
operated by the WWW consortium, a collaboration between INRIA and the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which was set up to ensure
the compatibility of WWW servers. The new address for the World-Wide
Web home page is

The WebCore project, as the European activity is now called, will be
funded by the telematics programme of the European Commission with ECU
1.4 million over the next 18 months. Ten to 20 staff will tackle issues
such as: up-dating specifications for Web components, development of a
reference code, information services on the Web, promotion and
dissemination in Europe.

The Web was conceived at CERN in 1989 as a means of communication for
the widely dispersed high energy physics community. CERN provided the
technical reference point and invested substantial resources in WWW
development. Now that WWW software has become fundamental to the global
information infrastructure, further development needs to be pursued in a
wider context. CERN will remain a major user of WWW and continue to be
accessible via its home page

The two permanent members of the WWW-team at CERN are moving. Tim
Berners-Lee has already joined MIT, and Robert Calliau, who is still
with CERN, is expected to manage the WebCore project at INRIA.

17.2 UK council imposes major cut in particle physics

The UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council yesterday decided
to cut 2 million pounds from particle physics activities in the
financial year 1995/6. Such a cut had been expected (see PWEN16 item
1). It is part of a 3 million pound saving needed following the
allocation of research council budgets by the Office of Science and
Technology (see PWEN15 item 1). Decisions on whether to embark on new
experiments on gravitational waves, microwave background fluctuations
and non-baryonic dark matter have been postponed until late Spring. As
widely predicted, the UK will not be participating in the European Space
Agency's gamma-ray astronomy mission, Integral, unless finance is found
elsewhere or the schedule is changed.

The particle physics cutback will fall on the Rutherford Appleton
Laboratory, in Oxfordshire, and is expected to affect staffing levels
and experimental development, such as initial R&D on detectors for
CERN's Large Hadron Collider. PPARC has not cut back on the funding of
grants and studentships in the universities.

The savings will also affect astronomy: the council is to postpone
600,000 pounds of expenditure on development for the Gemini twin
telescope and has cut 300,000 pounds from other activities in the Royal

The 3 million pound cutback arises because the government allocation,
though numerically equal to the planning figure adopted in previous
years, has to cover an increase in the cost of the CERN subscription
arising, according to a set formula, from changes in the UK's currency
and economic performance. The cutback would have been larger if the
subscription to the European Space Agency had not been about 1 million
pounds less than expected (also due to currency fluctuations).

"Taken in the large, these decisions amount to a slowdown rather than
cutback in PPARC's programmes", one council member told PWEN. "They are
very frustrating given the enormous opportunities we have. But it will
get even more serious if PPARC funding continues at this level in future
years." More details will appear in the March issue of Physics World.

The other main point of discussion at the council meeting was the future
of the Royal Observatories themselves (see Physics World February p7).
The consensus is that more autonomy needs to be given to the island
sites (observatories on La Palma in the Canaries and Hawaii), and that
the management (as opposed to ownership and policy) of the observatories
should be separated from PPARC. The major outstanding questions concern
the need or otherwise for a single directorate for the two sites, and
the possible involvement in management by the Universities of Cambridge
and Edinburgh.

17.3 New priority programmes for Swedish research council

The Swedish Natural Research Council (NFR) is launching two priority
research programmes this year: the interface between the physics and
chemistry of condensed matter is of greatest relevance to physicists.
The other programme is on global geosphere dynamics.

These are the first of a series of priority programmes to be launched at
the rate of two a year. The budget plan for each programme is SwKr 3
million a year for five years. This is slightly less than anticipated
because the NFR's budget for 1995-96 is 3 per cent down in real terms on
1994-95 (see the March issue of Physics World for more on the NFR's
budget prospects). Both programmes are designed to foster
interdisciplinary collaboration.

Grants under the condensed matter programme will be awarded to proposals
that involve theory and experiment and are made jointly by young
physicists and chemists. Proposals are already in and grants will be
awarded later in the Spring. NFR's aim is to strengthen Sweden's
capacity to do basic research in an area that is also of strategic
importance and may hence attract support from other funding bodies.

The condensed matter programme is coordinated by Borje Johansson,
Physics Department, Uppsala University tel. +46 18 18 36 23, fax. +46
18 18 35 24, e-mail

A programme on astroparticle physics narrowly missed selection this time
and will be a strong candidate in the next selection round.

17.4 UK research council approves physics programme

The UK Engineering and Physical Research Council approved earlier this
week a range of programmes including those in physics and materials.
Included on the agenda was 1.4 million pounds of additional funds for
physics and maths from the government's science budget for 1995/6.
Before those funds are allocated the council is to examine the
possibility of directing them specifically at young scientists.

The materials programme is strongly directed at materials processing,
with a downplaying of new materials and materials characterization. New
managed programmes are to be developed in advanced magnetics,
microstructured photonic materials, the processing of advanced ceramics,
and predictive modelling of materials and processes. Also envisaged is
a new LINK programme in functional materials, in partnership with the
Department of Trade and Industry. Calls for proposals in all these
areas will be developed over the next few months.

In line with indications from the EPSRC's advisory panels, the materials
programme is to reduce its investment in novel- materials research,
including superconductivity, though work on the processing and
applications of such materials will be encouraged.

In physics the balance between atomic, molecular, optical, plasma,
nuclear and condensed matter physics is expected to continue as in the
recent past. For details of new managed programmes in specific areas,
watch this space.

17.5 Moves to interconnect Europe at 34 Mbps

Denmark is to link its five universities with a 34 Mbps network by
January 1996 using the public data network. A few small experimental
networks in Denmark already operate at 34 Mbps or faster. The plan is
to move later to 155 Mpbs, the speed of SuperJanet in the UK.

The decision to build the network makes Denmark one of seven European
countries which either operate or plan to operate networks at 34 Mbps or
faster. The others are Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden
and the UK. But the connection between those networks has a capacity of
only 2 Mbps.

The European Commission, seeing a major impediment to closer integration
of research in Europe, is launching a special initiative to connect all
national networks at 34 Mbps as soon as possible. The national network
operators have until 15 March to submit their proposals.

The call for proposals went out in December under both the 4th Framework
telematics and information technology programmes, although the specific
tasks involved are laid out only in the telematics work programme. A
pilot network is envisaged initially, which will operate for a limited
time. It must benefit users as well as providers of the service by
being of sufficient quality for researchers to try out multimedia

The successful consortium will consist of representatives from national
research networks and telecommunications operators who intend to offer
high speed data services commercially. Mechanisms for consultation with
users will be specified. The Commission plans to move relatively
quickly: it wants the pilot to start later this year. ECU 30 million of
EU money is available on a shared cost basis during the first two years
of the pilot.

For further information contact F. Boissiere, DG III/F5 fax. +32 2 296
1692 or J-P Euzen, DGXIII/C-3 fax +32 2 299 4586.

17.6 Physics disappears from most cited papers list

Physics (and chemistry) barely ranked in the Institute for Scientific
Information's (ISI) list of most cited papers in 1994. A report on
Japan's X-ray astronomy satellite ASCA (Advanced Satellite for Cosmology
and Astrophysics) came in 14th out of 29. Otherwise only a chemistry
paper on the synthesis of the anticancer agent taxol represented the
physical sciences.

Papers in the biomedical and biochemical sciences have overshadowed the
physical sciences for a number of years, according to the ISI's
newsletter, Science Watch - but never quite so dramatically as last
year. A smattering of papers on superconductivity and fullerene
chemistry have made the "red hot research papers" list in previous
years, but not this time.

Superconductivity, though, took seven out of ten places in the latest
list of most cited physics papers. The remaining three places were
taken by cosmology and astrophysics.

17.7 First international conference on R&D evaluation

The European Commission is attaching particular importance to the
evaluation of its 4th Framework programmes. An ad hoc working group of
CREST, the Commission's Scientific and Technical Research Committee, has
been set up to advise on new evaluation methodologies. The Commission
also hopes to benefit from discussion of others' experiences at the
"first international conference on the evaluation of RTD programmes"
which it is organising in Thessaloniki, Greece on 26-28 April.

The conference aims to bring together experts from EU and non- EU
countries and organisations to: establish a basis for discussion and
future cooperation; review experiences in RTD evaluation; and present
the latest results in RTD evaluation work undertaken by the Commission.
Specific sessions will be devoted to EU and international experience in
RTD evaluation, evaluating industrial research, and new approaches to
RTD evaluation.

Later in the year, the Commission plans to come up with a strategy for
evaluating its own programmes based on the working group's deliberations
and the outcomes of the conference.

For further information contact Matteo Donato, head of evaluation unit,
DGXII tel. +32 2 295 3955 fax. +32 2 296 2006 or Isidoros Karatzas
tel. +32 2 295 0027 fax. +32 2 296 2006. To attend the conference
contact Fotoula Cotsis, International Congress Consultants, 4 Filellinou
Street, 10557 Athens, Greece tel. +30 1 322 4368, FAX +30 1 324 5049.

17.8 Neutrino mass stirs controversy

A front page story in the New York Times on 31 January continues to stir
controversy in the particle physics community. Hywel White and
colleagues from the Los Alamos National Laboratory announced indications
of values for the muon- and electron- neutrino masses of 0.5-5 eV before
their work had been submitted to a primary research journal. Some
physicists have objected strongly to the way in which the results were
released. But White says that he is submitting a paper to Physical
Review Letters which will be published by the end of February. Full
details of the controversy will appear in the March issue of Physics

17.9 Neural net learns from astronomers

Millions of galaxy images stored on compact disc awaiting classification
need wait no longer. Ofer Lahav, from Cambridge University, and
colleagues in the UK and US have trained a neural net to classify
galaxies as accurately as astronomers.

Six experts asked to classify 831 galaxy images agreed unanimously on
only eight of them. But all agreed to within two adjacent
classifications on 80 per cent of the images suggesting that the
classification system is too fine, says Somak Raychaudhury, a US member
of the team and co-author of a paper in Science 10 February 1995.

The neural net was given each expert's classification for three quarters
of the galaxies and then tested on the remaining quarter. The net was
as likely to agree on a classification with an expert as two experts
were together.

The number of stored galaxy images far exceeds the number astronomers
could hope to classify. Millions more will be generated by all-sky
surveys over the next few years. Not only is the neural net capable of
dealing with this volume, it can also detect galaxies 100 times fainter
than human astronomers. The distribution of different shaped galaxies
provides clues to the large scale structure and ultimately the formation
and origin of the universe.


You are welcome to contact us with any comments on the above
developments, or news of others:
Editors: Philip Campbell, Judy Redfearn
E-mail address:
Tel: +44 272 297481 Fax: +44 272 251942

Physics World Electronic News: all contents of this newsletter are the
copyright of IOP Publishing 1995. The reproduction or forwarding of all
or part of this document will require explicit permission of IOP

Bibliographic code ISSN 1356-7861

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Original posting date: 
Sunday, July 30, 1995
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